Day 27

Well, looks like I’m back to falling behind on my blog posts… sorry guys! Our power has been out a lot lately, so it has been tough to find a time in which I am not only free to write, but also have a charged laptop and hotspot. In fact, the power is out as I type this, so I am hoping that my battery lasts me until I can post Days 27 and 28.  

I guess you could say the first “eventful” thing about my day on Monday was that I slept in until 7:36… and the school’s assembly starts at 7:30. I have become so used to hearing the students and teachers chatting loudly (I’d even venture to say yelling), with the lights on, from 5AM onwards, that I guess I’ve started to learn how to tune them out (a little too well perhaps). I woke up in a panic and, after hurrying to get ready, was able to catch the end of the teachers meeting at 7:50. 

As it turned out, the 8AM class I thought I’d have with Class 5 had to be pushed back to 10:30, as the kids had an exam from 8:30 until 10. I busied myself by collecting the cameras that Class 6 had taken home over the weekend, marking assignments, writing, and beginning to go through the plethora of pictures I’ve taken here so that I could narrow it down to a more-suitable-for-Facebook size. I was able to make good use of my down time, and then met up with my class at 10:30. 

Since I went on the Alhaji field trip with Class 5 last week, I took this period to discuss captions with the class. The fact that we did not need to use our cameras during this class period worked out perfectly, as I would definitely need the whole day to charge Class 6’s dead cameras before more field trips were taken. I gave the class their caption assignment—to write a caption describing the actions of whomever I assigned them in the school—and then, after fifteen minutes, they brought back their notes for me to check. Most needed many more revisions to their captions than Class 6 or Form 1 had required, though they are the youngest so I feel that is definitely understandable. 

From there, we went over their Alhaji assignment and I gave out candies to whoever received one or more “green” pictures. Though I have not been grading the students’ work in a traditional sense (I want them to feel free to experiment creatively, instead of doing what it takes to receive an A), I have been labeling my favorite photos in order to explain to them each week why I think some pictures are more successful than others. A photograph with no label is just okay, while a photo with a red label is good, a yellow label is better, and a green label is best. In order to encourage the students to take their time and really consider design elements and the loose “rules” I have taught them, I have been rewarding the students by offering one piece of candy for each “green” photo that they take during the week. So far, the goal to beat has been three “greens,” which Adelaide achieved this week. Seriously, some of the photographs that the kids came back from their field trip with were amazing. Like, so good that I wished I had taken some of them! I’ve included most of Class 5’s green photos below (featuring proper crediting and explanation), as well as a few noteworthy yellows.

A man sits outside of a provisional shop in Alhaji. By  Hakeem, Class 5.

A man sits outside of a provisional shop in Alhaji. By Hakeem, Class 5.

A tro tro gets stuck while rounding a bend. By  Perlin, Class 5.

A tro tro gets stuck while rounding a bend. By Perlin, Class 5.

Pastel-painted shops. By  Adelaide, Class 5. 

Pastel-painted shops. By Adelaide, Class 5. 

A chicken walks through a gutter. By  Isaac, Class 5. 

A chicken walks through a gutter. By Isaac, Class 5. 

A palm tree is reflected in gutter water. By  Maxwell, Class 5.

A palm tree is reflected in gutter water. By Maxwell, Class 5.

By the time my class ended at noon, Mariana had finally arrived back at the school. She had taken the opportunity to sleep in at Quasi’s that morning, which I was so jealous about! We spent some time catching each other up on what had occurred over the weekend (while I was in Aburi, she went to the wedding of one of Quasi’s friends), and then we had lunch. Every Monday the school cooks make jollof rice and fried eggs, which has quickly become my absolute favorite meal here. It’s protein, it’s not too spicy, and it’s edible! A culinary trifecta, if you will. I made my usual request (not a lot of rice… a lot of egg), and happily enjoyed my meal.

When I had finished eating, I attempted to check on my clothes, which were hanging on a line to dry, to see if they were ready for me to take down. What I was not expecting was to be totally blocked by a small mountain of coal. I feel like the way in which I just mentioned that makes it sound like a hyperbole, but this is no joke—there was literally a pile of coal, about three feet high, covering the floor underneath my clothes. In fact, some points of the pile were so high that the coal was mere inches away from touching my skirts. I was so confused as to why this coal was here, as well as obviously a bit concerned about the possibility of staining, so I asked the cook (who was laying down on a nearby sack of coal) what was going on. His English is very minimal so he was not able to offer me much of an explanation, though I gathered from context clues that the cooks were moving the coal which was in old, ripped sacks, to newer, better sacks. Though this made sense to me, I wished that I had received a bit of a heads up since I now had to scramble to the top of this pile (making my sandaled feet completely black in the process) in order to rescue my clothes and move them to another (safer) clothesline.

After successfully moving all of my clothes to a more coal-free location, I had a rehearsal for Miss Brainbirds at 1:30. While we usually practice in whichever classroom we find empty, this time we were afforded the luxury of the assembly room: a gigantic room that takes up almost the entire top floor of the school. Because this location change had thrust our performance a bit more into the spotlight, it wasn’t long before the chairs in the room (still set up from church over the weekend) were filled with eager spectators. The girls practiced their group dance and received tips from Mariana, who was sitting in the audience with a few of her students. As she pointed out, there were some moves the girls did in which they were not synchronized at all, and there were others that the younger girls did not seem to have a firm grasp of. We took this time to revamp our dance a bit, replacing harder moves with easier ones. The finished choreography was so much better than it had been previously, and I think that the girls and I are now much happier with how it is all coming together. 

After school ended at 3:30, I did not do much more with my day. I walked the quarter mile to Israel around dinnertime to grab some fruit from my favorite stand for dinner, and while the owner of the stand cut my pineapple I tried out the new Twi I had learned. I was able to successfully ask the owner for her name (which is Na Na) and also wished her a good evening. She understood me perfectly, so I guess my Twi isn’t too bad! With my leftover money, I bought bananas to have the next morning with breakfast, and then headed back to the school. I ate my pineapple and, when Mariana was full from her dinner, I had a few bites of her leftover beef and lettuce. Though I was completely full when I had finished eating, I joked with her that, if I were to actually list out everything I had eaten, I’d sound anorexic. One small pineapple; two small bites of beef; three forkfuls of lettuce. How I was full from only that was really beyond me. But, for the record: despite my abnormal meals, I don’t think I’ve lost much weight here… I guess my body is clinging to the fat I get from my daily intake, instead of shedding it, since I don’t have much to eat? I’m not too sure. Anyway, beyond that I had hoped to watch a movie with the girls since we weren’t able to on Sunday night, though their Monday night church services interfered with this and we rescheduled for Wednesday. Our power held out long enough for me to charge all 14 camera batteries, and I pulled the pictures from Class 6’s memory cards before going to sleep.